It's time to address the themes proposed by Abelard about when did I know and where I am on my journey. They are really just different aspects of the story of my life.
When Did I Know?
I do not recall a specific instance where I said to myself, "holy crap, I'm gay!" That realization slowly dawned on me about 6 or 7 years ago. In some ways, it's still dawning on me. To start I should say that I'm the oldest of 2 kids. I have a younger sister. My dad worked a lot, so I was mostly just close to my mom growing up. There were few boys my age in my neighborhood. Most were younger or older by a year or two. I had no cousins, male or female, my age. I didn't have a lot of male influence or close relationships with men or boys growing up.
When I was a kid, I remember being a little interested in my friends and other guys, but not very much. As a very young kid, I remember being a little interested in smooth chested guys. I also remember trying to sneak a look at my uncle while we were changing after my baptism. Other than that, I really don't remember any sexual feelings while young. At the same time, I had my crushes on girls. I was engaged in kindergarten, and we had fun kissing! Then I didn't like her in first grade. Girls became icky then. I remember another crush I had in 5th grade.
In middle school, I wasn't particularly amorous. I remember feeling insecure in the locker room. I was a nerd. I was small and skinny without any skill at any sport. To avoid that, I spent most of those three years in gym class at the pool. We had to take at least 2 weeks of swimming, but I would spend most of the year in the pool. I kind of wished that I had continued and pushed myself into joining the high school swim team, but I never gave it serious thought because I didn't believe I had any physical prowess and I wasn't brave at trying new things. I had never been on a competitive team, except very young with soccer for a couple of years. Anyway, I remember looking at my friends in the swimming locker room and paying attention to certain physical developments. I also remember having a hard time not getting an erection when changing. I didn't connect those two things. Now that I know sexual attraction and release, I don't think that was what I was feeling at the time. It was mostly just curiosity and insecurity. At the same time, there a few girls who I thought were cute, but way above me. In addition, all through out these younger years, I made friends much easier with girls than boys.
Then came high school. Like most people, I grew up a lot physically and emotionally during those years. I gained in height but not in size. I was skinny when I graduated high school at about 135 lbs, while being 5'11". Anyway, my insecurities continued and I still looked at guys some to see how they were developing. But mostly, I paid attention to one friend. I would try to think of situations where I could see him shirtless. I would just enjoy spending time with him talking and being alone with him. He was my friend, but I could tell he didn't think about me to the same degree of intensity. It would drive me crazy that he could go forever without seeing me or calling me if I didn't try to reach out to him first. At the time, he was really my only male friend. Now I know I had a crush on him, but didn't recognize that. I never thought in terms that I had homosexual attractions. I had a few other male acquaintances, but they were in their cliques. I didn't hang out with them. At the same time, I had some great female friends. We're still friends, and I even married one of them! I also had crushes on some girls. I enjoyed dating, but it like hanging with really good friends. I never thought about making out with them. I enjoyed my dates, looking at the girls, but always thought a romantic relationship would come later in my life. So I rarely went out with a girl more than twice.
Then I attended college for a year. I can't think of anything that happened to me during that year to affect my sexuality. I did become really good friends with a certain girl from high school.
Then there was the MTC. Wow, 9 weeks of hanging out with guys, studying the scriptures, and learning to be a missionary. I liked the side single shower where I knew I wouldn't be looked at much. I still had issues with my body image. At the same time I could look over into the tree showers. I know I did that, but those curious feelings about the other guys were pretty minor. Mostly what I remember about the MTC was the camaraderie and the spiritual growth. I felt accepted by a bunch of guys for the first time. It was nice. The mission was a lot of hard work, and I just didn't think about sex or other guys much. There were a few good looking missionaries that I glanced at a couple of times.
I came home and dated that girl. A year later, we were married. One sign I should have noticed before I got married was that I didn't enjoy the kissing as much as I though I would. And then when we were married, sex was awkward at first. I had some strange feelings for the first day or two that I can only describe as feeling like I shouldn't be seeing my wife in her underwear or naked. That only lasted for a day or two. We figured things out and had great sex for a few years. Even today, I don't like talking about it. It's something we do and it makes us closer, but we don't discuss it much.
A few years into our marriage, we moved out of state for graduate school. Soon after that, my wife became pregnant. I was dealing with the stress of school, I didn't have any guy friends, and our romantic relations diminished quite a bit. I found myself in free time browsing the Internet. At first I just looked for shirtless guys, then naked guys, then naked aroused guys, and then full on sex between guys. Around this time, I masturbated for the first time. It took a year or two of this behavior to realize that I was gay. I had so many rationalizations in my head for what I was doing that I didn't even realize I was rationalizing. It took awhile, but I rid myself of the lies I was telling myself and finally admitted that I liked guys sexually.
Where Am I Now?
I am reevaluating myself some. I purposefully put in my story my crushes on girls. I've spent some time dwelling on them lately and my relationship with my wife. Those feelings were real. I am attracted to women. I love their curves and their kindness. I love the idea of growing old with my wife and being grandparents together. I also love sex with my wife. As a consequence, I think I'm bi. I definitely lust after guys more. Not ever having pursued a physical relationship with a guy, that lust may be a function of thinking about the unknown or thinking the pasture is greener on the other side more than an accurate indicator of the strength of my attractions to other guys.
I am actively trying to cultivate healthy relationships with other guys. I have some good friends now. They are not all in the same state, but I appreciate and love them. I am trying to remember the Savior's words that we should be like the little children. They do not care what you look like. I have 4 wonderful kids, and they don't care about the things I see in myself--ungainly, pale, and too hairy guy. They just see dad. When I look at other guys, I should look at their hearts and not how much muscle definition they have in deciding whether to reach out and open my heart to them.
I still struggle with these issues though. I haven't opened up to anyone except through this blog about these issues. I'm too chicken, or too protective of my wife to bring this up to her. I haven't been able to completely walk away from the porn. Also, I haven't found acceptance with myself in that I don't know what place these feelings for other guys have in my life. I don't see myself as a bad person for having them, but I can't really see how they fit into my life. That causes me some distress because I recognize now that I will always have these feelings.
I recognize that my natural tendency to just deal with everything internally isn't always the best policy. My first step is to be more open in this blog and consider how in my real life I can be more open and begin to contemplate how I can integrate all aspects of my life together and be more at peace with myself.
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